Upon waking, she makes her mother food. If they don’t have a doctor’s appointment to go to, she exercises on the treadmill, where she watches what she calls “Law & Order: Sexy Victims Unit” or “the Nazis,” which refers to whichever documentary on the Third Reich is playing on TV at that particular moment.
At night, she writes longhand, on the backs of old screenplay pages, so she doesn’t waste paper. Or, she’ll watch one of her favorite movies: “A Clockwork Orange,” “Mean Streets,” “West Side Story,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “8½,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Bicycle Thieves.”
When Heckerling was attending the High School of Art and Design in New York, she had to write an essay on what she wanted to do when she grew up. She was not raised to believe she’d do great things. Her father, who was an accountant, was upset that she didn’t learn how to type. She still can’t type.
She wrote in her essay that she wanted to be a writer for Mad Magazine. But the kid next to her wrote that he was going to Hollywood to make movies, and that made her angry. “First of all, he copied off of me all the time,” she said. “What was he going to do in Hollywood?” She decided that she would be going to Hollywood to make movies.
In the ’80s, she read an article about slob comedies, which included “Fast Times,” and was immensely proud of being the woman amid all the men behind them — “like ‘Police Academy’ and ‘Animal House’ with young people behaving badly or stupidly or whatever and raunchy humor.” “I was the only female that did a slob comedy, and I was kind of proud. They’re saying these movies are stupid and they’re lowering the art form and raunchy. I’m going, ‘I’m the only woman.’”
She always tried to act like she lived and worked in a post-sexist world. She hears things now about people not getting hired because they’re women, and in her own case, all she can think is: “Oh, I don’t know. You know, I keep thinking, like, well, it’s my fault. If I was better, it wouldn’t have happened. I don’t go around going, boy, I’m so good, but I do see a lot of guys that I don’t think are that good and they get more chances or whatever, but I tend to think if I was better this [expletive] wouldn’t have happened to me.”
After “Clueless,” she wasn’t sure what to do next. Before that, she’d always had goals. She wanted to make a big studio film before she was 30, and she did that. She wanted to make a hit — “the way boys had hits, not like a girl hit that made $50 million, but a boy hit that made hundreds of millions,” she told Charlie Rose, and she did that. Now she decided that she would focus on the stories she really wanted to tell.